Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Helps Secure $350,000 in Federal Reimbursements to McAllen, Catholic Charities and Food Bank in Hidalgo County

Washington, June 22, 2018 | Olya Voytovich (202-226-1583)

Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) released the following statement regarding federal reimbursements to border communities who have provided humanitarian assistance during the surge of immigrants which began in 2014:

“I’m glad to see our communities and nonprofits finally receive reimbursement for providing humanitarian aid,” said Congressman Cuellar. “I fought hard in Congress to author appropriation language that allows our local communities to be reimbursed with federal dollars for their humanitarian assistance. The City of McAllen, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, will receive over $350,000 in federal reimbursements for expenses the incurred, including food, transportation, shelter, and medical care provided to unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. – Mexico border from 2014-2016 through the Humanitarian Relief for Unaccompanied Children and Families program. It’s been a long road to obtain these federal funds, but these reimbursements will allow the City of Mc Allen and our local charities to continue assisting our community.”

In 2015, Congressman Cuellar added a provision in the federal appropriations bill that allowed the State of Texas to use Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to reimburse local governments and non-profits for their costs incurred to provide humanitarian relief.

The State of Texas receives an average of $20 million a year from the State Homeland Security Program’s federal dollars which they can tap into to reimburse communities. At that time, the state used those funds for other priorities. Congressman Cuellar worked in coordination with State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa to add a measure into the state supplemental appropriations bill that directed the state government to reimburse communities. However, due to a miscommunication between FEMA and the State of Texas, the release of the funds was delayed. Congressman Cuellar communicated with FEMA to clarify the misunderstanding between the agency and the State of Texas on the interpretation of the law.

In the past year, the Governor’s Homeland Security Grants Division worked closely with FEMA to ensure that requested expenses were documented and in line with FEMA’s Information Bulletin No. 418 which provided guidance on the use of funds for this purpose. Ultimately, FEMA determined that the following organizations were eligible for a grant award at the amounts noted below:


·         City of McAllen - $141,525.05

·         Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valle - $205,792.61

·         Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc. - $4,879.12